A recent rally organized by ‘Women Wage Peace’ may have looked momentous, yet it ignored 50 years of military occupation, all while recycling the same old tropes about the role of women in violent conflicts.
I arrived early and with many reservations to the rally organized by “Women Wage Peace” in Jerusalem’s Independence Park this past week. It was the culmination of a two-week “Journey to Peace,” in which thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women marched through Israel and the West Bank to demand a peaceful resolution to the conflict. I had been following the group since it was formed after the 2014 Gaza war. On the one hand, a mass movement of women in support of peace is a welcome change. On the other hand, what are they actually saying? And even more importantly: what are they not saying? How can it be that the word occupation is entirely absent from a group that aims to end the conflict?
I came early, deciding to sit in a cafe along the route of the march. After a few minutes, two women dressed in white and speaking in Arabic sat next to me. I asked if they were part of the march; they said yes. After a brief conversation, I asked one of the women, a Palestinian-Israeli from Jaffa, if she isn’t bothered that Women Wage Peace never even hints at the word “occupation.”
“This was the decision that was made,” she responded evasively. When I asked once more whether or not it bothers her, she said, “of course it bothers me. It bothers me as a woman, as a Palestinian, as an Israeli, but this is what they decided. That we must speak about the future, we’ve already spoken plenty about the past.” But the occupation is not the past, I insisted. It is very much the present. “You’re right, but what can we do? Keep sitting at home? We need to do something to change reality.”
Our conversation was cut off by the march, which suddenly grew close. We paid and hurried outside. The sight was enthralling: thousands of women — and men — dressed in all white, marching and singing songs of peace in central Jerusalem. This is, of course, not a common sight. There were so many people that passersby just gaped; the usual right-wing chants well known from other protests — generally far smaller, especially in Jerusalem – were hardly heard....Read More